A New Breed of Seaman

A New Breed of Seaman

Kipling was the bard of the new seafaring culture,

A New Breed of Seaman the poet Masefield was of the passing age of sail.

Others came onto the scene to sing the songs of the new age,

notable Guy Gilpatrick in his stories of the Scots engineer Colin Glen cannon of the SS Inchcliffe Castle who gave us a grand picture of the humor,

simple beliefs and hard-learned skills of the people who manned the ships.

Norman Reilly Raine did the same for the coastal tugboat people, including one woman, the immortal Tugboat Annie Brennan,

whose battles with rival tugboatman Horatio Bullwinkle are accepted by the maritime community of Puget Sound as the myths of their race,

true to life with a truth that transcends the mere spinning of yams.

And there ‘s Peter B. Kyne on the era of Cappy Ricks in San Francisco,

A New Breed of Seaman and his eventual son-in-law Matthew B. Peasley who graduated from sailing schooner to steam schooner and ultimately to deep-sea freighter in the era of World War I.

 These works develop the ethos of steam navigation and give us some picture of a way oflife already vanished from among us, when firing up an engine meant more than pressing a button.

 We learn much of the world of the deep-sea British freighter from Sir Walter Runciman’s Before the Mast-and After.

Runciman sailed as a boy in collier brigs in the North Sea.

He worked his way up to command and finally to own steamers.

 His autobiography reminds us that the steaming of these ships was not all beer and skittles,

even as they took over and ministered to a vast, universally enriching growth in world trade.

At the height of this era of change, he tells the story of four steamers that put to sea, all sailing from the Tyne in December 1878, toward Genoa.

He notes: “We had decent weather along the coast down Channel to about a hundred miles west of Ushant, but then ran into a terrific storm.

I ran side by side with the Joseph Ferens for twenty-four hours,

and on the night that awful hurricane began we lost sight of her.”

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